How to Get to Kusatsu Onsen
As one of Japan’s most famous hot spring towns, visiting Kusatsu Onsen is well-worth the effort. Located high in the mountains of the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, Kusatsu sits among a dramatic and unique landscape, far from the hustle and hum of the cities.
Despite its relative remoteness, Kusatsu Onsen is readily accessible thanks to Japan’s fantastic transport network. For most visitors, reaching Kusatsu is a two-stage journey involving the train and then bus via Karuizawa Station.
1 / Hokuriku Shinkansen & local bus
From Nagano Station, both the Hakutaka and Asama take around 30 minutes to reach Karuizawa and costs JPY3210 one-way.
From Tokyo Station, the Hakutaka takes around 65 minutes to reach Karuizawa and costs JPY5490 one-way. The slower Asama service takes around 75 minutes to reach Karuizawa and also costs JPY5490 one-way.
From the northern terminus of Kanazawa Station, take the Hakutaka service to Karuizawa. The total journey takes around 120 minutes and costs JPY11,120.
Further information and tips for using the Hokuriku Shinkansen, please refer to our ‘Hokuriku Shinkansen Line’ page. To see the daily train schedule, please refer to our ‘Hokuriku Shinkansen Line Timetable’ page.
Once at Karuizawa Station, you need to transfer to the Seibu Kanko local bus line headed to Kusatsu Onsen. The journey takes approximately 80 minutes and costs JPY2240 one-way.
Buses to Kusatsu Onsen operate to the righthand side of the station’s North Exit:
Buses from Kusatsu Onsen operate from the Kusatsu Onsen Bus Terminal*:
*the Kusatsu Onsen Bus Terminal is approximate 5-minutes walk from the town centre/’yubatake’.
2 / Private or rental car
Outside of winter, driving to and from Kusatsu Onsen is a great way to experience the region. Japan maintains an excellent road system including tolled expressways which dramatically reduce the time between destinations.
From Tokyo, allow a minimum of 3.5 hours to reach Kusatsu Onsen but more realistically, when including stops and other destinations on the way allow at least 4.5 to 5 hours to make the journey enjoyable.
From Nagano, driving to Kusatsu Onsen takes around 2 hours without stopping. Doing so via the Shiga Kusatssu Kogen Road makes for a beautiful drive on a well-maintained alpine road. The route is only open from May until mid/late-November and cannot be driven during winter. Upon opening in May, sections of the road cut through snow and ice up to 7 metres in height – an impressive and beautiful sight.
Further information can be found on our ’25 Things to do in & around Kusatsu Onsen’ page.
Driving this route also takes you past the Jigokudani Monkey Park, making it an excellent way to visit some of the region’s most memorable destinations.
3 / Express Bus from Tokyo
Highway buses run from Shibuya Mark City to Kusatsu Onsen, taking around 4.5 hours and costing between JPY3600-JPY4000. Given the notably longer time to reach Kusatsu yet relatively small price difference, we do not recommend using the bus.
4 / Private Tour or Charter
Locally based and operating all year round, Snow Monkey Resorts is Nagano’s No.1-rated tour and charter operator.
Operating all year round we offer a range of group tours through winter, spring, summer and autumn – including to the monkey park and many other regional destinations. Tours are led by locally-based, English-speaking guides.
We can provide private tours and charters to any destination including Kusatsu Onsen, with customised itineraries to suit your travel needs and interests. We have the expertise and experience to help you get the most out of your time in the region, including transport to and from Kusatsu along with any regional destination.
Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you to and from your preferred destinations, in combination with any activity that suits your interests and schedule.
We can arrange both private tours with an English-speaking guide or a private charter, including a private vehicle and driver but without a guide. We’d love to be part of that experience and help you discover even more!
Why choose us?
Awarded a 2019 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for our 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour – recognised as one of the Top 10 Experiences in Japan – we have the local knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of your time in Nagano.
Got a question about visiting Kusatsu Onsen? Feel free to contact us at email@example.com and let’s get planning together!